A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον ( kenos, one meaning being "empty", and taphos, "tomb"). Although the vast majority of cenotaphs are erected in honour of individuals, many of the best-known cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the war dead of one country or empire.

Cenotaphs in the United Kingdom

The Cenotaph, London
Probably the best-known cenotaph in the modern world is the one that stands in Whitehall, London at 51°30′09.6″N 0°07′34.1″W  /  51.502667°N 0.126139°W  / 51.502667; -0.126139  ( The Cenotaph, London) Coordinates: 51°30′09.6″N 0°07′34.1″W  /  51.502667°N 0.126139°W  / 51.502667; -0.126139  ( The Cenotaph, London) . It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who conceived the idea from the name of a structure in Gertrude Jekyll's garden, and constructed from Portland stone between 1919 and 1920 by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts. It replaced Lutyens's identical wood-and-plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade commissioned by David Lloyd George, and is a Grade I listed building. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end and the words "The Glorious Dead", chosen by Rudyard Kipling. It commemorates the victims of the First World War. The sides of the Cenotaph are not parallel, but if extended would meet at a point some 300 metres (980 ft) above the ground. Similarly, the "horizontal" surfaces are in fact sections of a sphere whose centre would be 900 feet (270 m) below ground. It is flanked on each side by various flags of the United Kingdom which Lutyens had wanted to be carved in stone. Although Lutyens was overruled and cloth flags were used, his later Rochdale cenotaph has stone flags. In the years following 1919, the Cenotaph displayed a Union Flag, a White Ensign, and a Red Ensign on one side and a Union Flag, a White Ensign, and a Blue Ensign on the other side. On 1 April 1943, an RAF Ensign was substituted for the White Ensign on the west side of the monument. The flags displayed as of 2007 represent the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force, and the Merchant Navy. The Cenotaph is the site of the annual National Service of Remembrance held at 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11 November ( Armistice Day). Uniformed service personnel (excluding fire and ambulance personnel) always salute the Cenotaph as they pass. It was, for example, very noticeably the only salute made by the Royal Horse Artillery driver of Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral carriage during that procession; on that occasion he did not even salute the Queen. A replica/miniature model of this cenotaph can be found in Cookstown, Northern Ireland and the Cenotaph in Manchester, England (also the work of Lutyens) are very similar.

The Cenotaph, Belfast
The Belfast Cenotaph was unveiled on 11 November 1929 by Viscount Allenby as a memorial to the war dead. The Cenotaph in Belfast is located in the grounds of Belfast City Hall at 54°35′47″N 5°55′48″W  /  54.59639°N 5.93°W  / 54.59639; -5.93  ( The Cenotaph, Belfast) and is set within a Garden of Remembrance. It is about 9.5 metres (31 ft) high with a background of a colonnade about 8 metres (26 ft) high. On either side of the Cenotaph are ornamental cast bronze brackets. It includes several carvings including laurel wreaths, symbolising victory and honour, attachments to the mouldings of the cornices and capitals. The lettering is engraved in Roman type. The Cenotaph is the site of the annual main Northern Ireland memorial held at 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11 November ( Armistice Day).

Chhatris (cenotaphs) in India
In India, cenotaphs are a basic element of Hindu architecture borrowed from Islam, as seen in most of the mausoleums of Mughal Emperors which have two burial chambers, the upper one with a cenotaph, as in Humayun's Tomb, Delhi or Taj Mahal, Agra, while the real tomb exists often lies exactly below it, or further removed. The term chhatri, used for these canopy like structures, comes from Hindustani word literally meaning umbrella, and are found throughout the northwestern region of Rajasthan. In the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, chhatris are built on the cremation sites of wealthy or distinguished individuals. Chhatris in Shekhawati may consist of a simple structure of one dome raised by four pillars to a building containing many domes and a basement with several rooms. In some places, the interior of the chhatris is painted in the same manner as the Havelis. Some of the best-known chhatris in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan are located at the following cities and towns:
  • Bissau, Rajasthan - The Raj ki Chhatri of the Shekhawat Thakurs
  • Parasrampura - Rao Shekha Ji's descendent Sardul Singh's chhatri.
  • Kirori - Chhatri of Thakur Todarmal(Ruler of Udaipurwati)
  • Ramgarh - Ram Gopal Poddar Chhatri
  • Dundlod - The beautiful chhatri of Ram Dutt Goenka
  • Mukungarh - Shivdutta Ganeriwala Chhatri
  • Churu - Taknet Chhatri
  • Mahansar - The Sahaj Ram Poddar Chhatri
  • Udaipurwati - Joki Das Shah ki Chhatri
  • Fatehpur - Jagan Nath Singhania Chhatri
Many other chhatris exist in other parts of Rajasthan. Their locations include:
  • Jaipur - Gaitore is an enclosed area in a narrow valley where the cenotaphs of Jaipur's rulers are located. The cenotaphs of the former rulers of Jaipur consist of the somewhat typical chhatri or umbrella-shaped memorials. Jai Singh Chhatri is particularly noteworthy because of the carvings that have been used to embellish it.
  • Jodhpur - White marble Chhatri of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II
  • Bharatpur- the cenotaphs of the members of the Jat royal family of Bharatpur, who died fighting against the British in 1825, are erected in the town of Govardhan. The chhatri of Maharaja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur has fine frescos illuminating the life of Surajmal, vividly depicting darbar and hunting scenes, royal processions and wars.
  • Udaipur-. Flanked by a row of enormous stone elephants, the Lake Pichola island has an impressive chhatri carved from gray blue stone, built by Maharana Jagat Singh.
  • Haldighati - a beautiful Chhatri with white marble columns, dedicated to Rana Pratap, stands here. The cenotaph dedicated to Chetak, Rana Pratap's famous horse, is also noteworthy.
  • Alwar - Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri is a beautiful red sandstone and white marble cenotaph of the rulers of Alwar.
  • Bundi - Suraj Chhatri and Mordi Ki Chhatri, Chaurasi Stambh Chhatri and Nath Ji ki Chhatri are located in Bundi. Rani Shyam Kumari wife of Raja Chhatrasal on the northern hill constructed the Suraj Chhatri and Mayuri the second wife of Chhatrasal on the southern hill erected Mordi Ki Chhatri.
  • Bikaner - Devi Kund near Bikaner is the royal crematorium place with a number of cenotaphs. The chhatri of Maharaja Surat Singh is most imposing. It has the spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceilings.
  • Nagaur - Nath Ji ki Chhatri, Amar Singh Rathore-ki-Chhatri
The region of Madhya Pradesh is the site of several other notable chhatris:
  • Shivpuri - Intricately embellished marble chhatris erected by the Scindia rulers in Shivpuri.
  • Gwalior - Shrimati Balabai Ladhojirao Shitole - ki Chatri.
  • Gwalior - Rajrajendra Ramchandrarao Narsignha Shitole Rustum-jang Bahadur- ki Chatri
  • Gohad - The Jat rulers of Gohad constructed the chhatri of Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana on the Gwalior Fort.
The region of Maharashtra is the site of several other notable chhatris:
  • Pune - Rajrajendra Ladhojirao Narsighrao Shitole,Rustum- jang Bahadur ki Chatri on the Bank of Mulamutha sangam River

Cenotaphs in the rest of the world

Cenotaphs have been erected in many countries around the world since ancient times. It was a common tradition in the ancient world, with many examples built in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and across in Northern Europe (in the shape of Neolithic barrows). The practice is still continued around the world. Lutyens' cenotaph influenced the design of many other war memorials in Britain and the British sectors of the Western Front, as well as those in other Commonwealth nations. The Cenotaph in Central, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, Cenotaph in Malaysia and the Cenotaph in Singapore were erected as memorials to the war dead of World War I. In Canada, major cenotaphs commemorating the nation's war dead in World War I and later conflicts include the National War Memorial (a cenotaph surmounted by a bronze sculpture entitled "The Response") in Ottawa, Ontario and the Victory Square Cenotaph, in Vancouver, British Columbia. A cenotaph in Yale University's Hewitt Quad (or Beinecke Plaza) honours the Men of Yale who died in battle. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas is often described as a cenotaph. One of the most famous non-European examples is the concrete Memorial Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, designed by Kenzo Tange to commemorate the 200,000 victims of the August 1945 atomic bomb attack. A cenotaph is the focal point of the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa. It is situated below the other main point of interest, a marble Historical Frieze in the Hall of Heroes, and is visible through a round opening in the floor. The Hall of Heroes itself has a dome from the summit of which one can view the interior of the monument. At noon on December 16 each year the sun shines through another opening in the dome onto the middle of the cenotaph, where the words 'Ons vir Jou, Suid-Afrika' ( Afrikaans for 'We for Thee, South Africa') are inscribed. The ray of sunshine symbolises God's blessing on the lives and endeavours of the Voortrekkers. 16 December is the date in 1838 that the Battle of Blood River was fought. Durban, South Africa, has a striking and unusual cenotaph made of granite and lavishly decorated with brightly coloured ceramics. The Church of Santa Engrácia, in Lisbon, Portugal, turned into a National Pantheon since 1966, holds six cenotaphs, namely to Luís de Camões, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and Henry the Navigator. A cenotaph was erected inside the Manila North Cemetery in the Philippines in honor of the 24 scouts who died in a plane crash en route to the 11th World Scout Jamboree.

Cenotaphs for the missing
Although most notable cenotaphs commemorate notable individuals buried elsewhere, many cenotaphs pay tribute to people whose remains have never been located. Two such cenotaphs are dedicated to bodies of RMS Titanic victims, whose bodies were not recovered after the sinking. The cenotaph of Ida Straus serves as the gravestone for her husband Isidor Straus at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, and the striking cenotaph of Major Archibald Butt, aide to President William Taft, is located at Arlington National Cemetery .

Cenotaphs in art
Cenotaphs have also been the subject of a number of famous illustrations, notably:
  • The Cenotaph to Reynold's Memory ( John Constable, c. 1833)
  • Elevation for Newton's Cenotaph, Perspective ( Etienne-Louis Boullée, c. 1785)
  • The Cenotaph of Jean Jacques Rousseau ( Hubert Robert, 1794)

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